Congressman says Davis stalling on energy documents

By Jennifer Coleman The Associated Press
Thursday March 14, 2002

SACRAMENTO — Republican congressmen investigating California’s energy crisis have accused Gov. Gray Davis of “stonewalling” their review. 

In a letter to Davis sent Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said Davis’ office failed to submit documents requested by his staff and several House subcommittees. 

Tauzin had asked for documents relating to California’s power expenses, particularly the long-term energy contracts state officials signed last year. Critics say the contracts, totaling $43 billion, locked the state into a decade of high prices. Davis says they helped stabilize California’s volatile energy market. 

Davis’ press secretary said the letter, which included an outline of the information the committee says wasn’t received, was politically motivated. 

“Clearly they’re more interested in politics than in solving problems. They haven’t even done their basic homework,” said spokesman Steve Maviglio. “If they bothered picking up a newspaper, they’d get most of their answers.” 

Tauzin also asked the governor to provide detailed information on Davis’ energy consultants, their contracts and their statements of economic interest. 

He also requested copies of the state’s long-term energy contracts. Those contracts were made public in June, after Republican state legislators and several news organizations sued to get the details. 

Ken Johnson, a spokesman for Tauzin’s committee, denied that politics were involved in the information request. 

“The Davis administration appears to be hiding critically important documents from us. Little of the information they provided answered any of our specific questions,” Johnson said. “This is not a game. Congress has made an official request for this information and one way or another we’re going to get it.” 

The committee has subpoena power “and we’ve shown we’re not afraid to use it,” he said. 

The letter asked Davis to provide the additional information and produce a representative to meet with Tauzin’s staff at the end of March. 

Some of the documents Tauzin requested “simply don’t exist,” Maviglio said. That includes statements of economic interest for energy adviser Michael Peevey, who worked for free and wasn’t required to file those papers, he said. 

Maviglio said the governor’s office sent four boxes of documents in response to the earlier request and would “continue to be cooperative with the committee on issues that address the problem at hand.” 

In the administration’s January letter that accompanied the documents, Davis adviser Nancy McFadden said some of the information requested wasn’t available to the governor or couldn’t be released. 

That included information on the state’s “ongoing efforts to renegotiate the state’s contracts,” she said. “These matters are obviously highly sensitive until the renegotiated terms are finalized.” 

Additionally, McFadden offered assistance “in any investigation you may be conducting of Enron Corp.” 

Maviglio said Tauzin’s staff has not contacted the governor’s office for that help.